Setting the Tone at YMLA
Things just clicked the first time Fort Worth ISD Young Men’s Leadership Academy seniors Brian Dickson Jr., Isaac Tate IV and sophomore Jaqualyn Fleming sang together. Ever since, the trio has been inseparable.
Known as The Tones, the group formed in 2015 after being asked to sing together at a breast cancer awareness event.
Each member has his own unique style. Brian is more reserved, while Isaac is the opposite and enjoys getting people excited. Jaqualyn balances out the trio as the happy medium to his bandmates’ personalities.
One thing that is undeniable is their talent. At a recent performance, a hush fell over the YMLA auditorium as they performed a melody of songs recorded years before they were even born.
Their sound is crisp, their harmonies melodic and reminiscent of boy bands of the 1990s like Boyz II Men.
“I would describe our sound as an old soul,” Brian said. “We are like really Southern, gospel and church along with R&B, soul, neo-soul, just a bunch of different sounds.”
The group, who is self-taught, spends their lunch period and time after school rehearsing for upcoming performances at YMLA events and local church programs. They all agree that singing is a cathartic outlet for them, and that performing before an audience brings them joy.
What began as a singing trio has evolved into a brotherhood, Jaqualyn says.
“If I have any issues or anything … I go to them,” he said. “We care for each other. We have each other’s back through thick and thin.”
The Tones are well known through the halls of YMLA.
To their peers, they’re leaders, said Rodney White, YMLA principal.
“Our qualities [at YMLA] are perseverance, resilience, integrity, discipline and excellence. These three young men that are in this group definitely have a lot of integrity and they show that every day as they help me lead and run the school,” Mr. White said. “They’re so humble. A lot of times, you come around a lot of talented people who are not as humble and they think they’re above others, but they’re very humble. They’re always willing to help.
“I honestly look forward to seeing them years to come down the road. I just want them to have the right exposure, because they’ve given so much to the school, so I want to try to give back to them.”
Where this group goes beyond high school is anybody’s guess, but Isaac said he’s hopeful.
“We kind of want to see what we can do outside this and possibly record [music] so I don’t know how far we’ll get,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind if the opportunity came. I would go for it.”